CEDAR GROVE, NJ – Cedar Grove soccer boasts a young team this year and is facing the challenges that come along with that youth.  Though only a sophomore, Matt DeGennaro is one of the more seasoned players and the team’s leading scorer making him TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove’s Panther Athlete of the Week.

“We’re a pretty young team and we’re just getting to know each other,” DeGennaro explained.  “We need to get our chemistry going and then I think things will go really well.”

Currently the Panthers are 3-3 overall and DeGennaro leads the team with four goals and an assist.  He said as the team’s chemistry builds their playing is getting stronger.  He cites confidence as the biggest challenge for the team, especially when they go up against a tougher team.

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“I feel we are coming out soft and scared sometimes when we take on team we see as tough,” DeGennaro explained. “It takes us about 20 minutes to get into it and then we play stronger.  I think it’s because we’re so young.  As we gain experience and trust, we just keep improving.”

Winning or losing, DeGennaro said the best part of the season so far has simply been spending time with his team.  “The team is great.  I love being around them and that’s what it’s all about – making friends and having fun.”

Fun aside, DeGennaro also has some competitive goals in mind for the rest of the season.  “We’d like to win a state game this year.  We were in one last year and we kept it close, but they started to score on us in the second half,” DeGennaro said.  “I’d like for us to take a state game this year and to finish over 500.”

As for earning Athlete of the Week honors, DeGennaro is proud and humble giving credit to his coach and his teammates.  “I’m really proud of myself, but I also want to thank my coach and my teammates for helping me play my best,” he added.

Editor's Note: The "Athlete of the Week" is a weekly reoccurring feature story that highlights an individual student-athlete's success. The Cedar Grove High School Athlete of the Week is selected with the assistance of the school's athletic director and coaching staff.